Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

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need a rest — August 18, 2021

need a rest

We had completed the first workday of our mission trip.   It was grueling labor there under the scorching Nicaraguan sun.  Each of us gratefully grabbed a plate of food and took our places at the table.

One of us sat down and then suddenly vanished.  No – it was not the rapture.  All 4 of the flimsy legs of his green molded plastic chair snapped and he instantly dropped beneath the table.  We laughed and teased the guy once we found out that he was OK.

But then another person disappeared.  By the end of the week I believe we lost 4 team members that way.  It was a real-life game of whack-a-mole.

The work was exhausting and the chairs were frustrating – denying us physical and even emotional rest.  We worried every time we sat down, “Is it my turn to become the butt of the jokes?” (pun intended)  

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Isn’t that a lot like life?   As they say in Texas, “Some of us look like we been rode hard and put away wet.”  We want some – we need some rest.

She says, “Being the caregiver for my mom is wearing on me.”  The teacher frets about how much her kids are learning online.   He says, “The boss hired a guy to assist me but managing the guy has doubled my stress.”  “The new believer struggles to live the way the Lord wants her to live.”  “The news these days is just too much for me to bear.”

Rest!  We really need it – but where do we find it?  Jesus said, “Come to me!” 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”   “OK Lord that’s me for sure – weary and burdened – but how are you going to give me rest?”   (Matthew 11:28)

He went on, “Take my yoke on you and learn from me because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  (11:29)

He spoke of a yoke – the kind that harnessed a team of oxen.  When an ox became of working age, the farmer would take the younger smaller beast and yoke him with a veteran.  Together they would plow the fields, but it was the older beast that actually bore the brunt of it all. 

He did the heavy pulling, while the younger simply walked along – learning the proper gait and how to respond to the farmers commands and so on.   When the younger was yoked with the older, it was very easy work for him.   Which is why Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”  (11:30)

There is an irony here, however.  We think of rest strictly as inactivity, but Jesus tells us that we rest when we are at work – doing what He would have us to do and in tandem with Jesus.

I am thinking that we need that kind of rest.  How do we find it? 

Jesus says, “Come to me!  Spend some time with me.  Listen to more of my words and less of your newscast.  Forget your peers and consider life from my perspective. Allow my strength to fill you.  Try more peace and fewer pills.  Just spend some time with me.” 

A musician will sometimes use a “rest” in his song.  This is an interval when the instruments are silenced while he continues to sing.  The rest provides clarity and emphasis to the words.

It seems like a good idea to build that kind of break into our days.   A time of inactivity and reflection– so that we can more clearly hear the voice of the shepherd. 

This kind of advice also comes to us from the Psalms.

“Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still.” KJV – Psalm 4:4. “Be still, and know that I am God.”  KJV  – Psalm 46:10

We need to stop and rest a while with Jesus each day to find that kind of deeper rest we need. 

Well – you will be glad to know that our mission team gave our Nicaraguan hosts a parting gift.  We replaced all the flimsy chairs with sturdy ones.  And now every scale-tipping American can settle down and rest easy when they visit there.  And that’s the “rest” of the story.

A PRAYER: Lord – I know how to work hard, but find it tough to rest well.  Help me to learn from You.”

Scripture passages are from the NET Bible ® unless otherwise noted.

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